Our Latest Insights

Baby Boomer Brain Drain: Passing the Torch to the Millennials

Posted by Midge Streeter on February 16, 2017

Find this author on:



Millennials are eager to learn and make an impact and they are known for their energy, ambition and enthusiasm. Baby Boomers, meanwhile, offer a level of experience and knowledge that is difficult to replace. By actively facilitating the transfer of skills from Baby Boomers to Millennials, companies can mitigate the effect of brain drain and prepare Millennials for important leadership roles.


  1.  Review your succession plan and look for the weak spots. Your Gen X leaders are few and far between. Why? Because the first flight of Baby Boomers didn’t retire at the beginning of the recession as predicted. Gen X high potential leaders didn’t get the opportunity to develop and may not yet be ready. They need to be in an accelerated program to backfill the pipe line. 

  2. Conduct a strategic workforce analysis. Determine the demographic breakdown by retirement age over the next 5 years. Where are the most vulnerable years for your organization? 

  3. Identify, prioritize and engage potential retirees. Prepare them to become mentors.
  4. Prepare senior and high potential leaders. Build a depth chart for critical positions around your organization 

  5. Create knowledge transfer opportunities. Pair high potential future leaders with Baby Boomers 

  6. Develop a layered leadership development strategy that includes the following:

    a. Baby Boomers need to mentor and coach top-end (older) millennials in short sessions over 6-12 months focused on technical and proprietary knowledge while modeling coaching skills that become part of the culture

    b. Generation X preparing for the C-Suite – Need to be ready to lead and engage, while implementing strategy and holding the senior team accountable

    c. Millennials need to be prepared to make a smooth transition from individual contributors to leaders and developers of teams in order to accomplish projects and service goals


The best way to accomplish the layered development approach is to involve as many leaders, functions and departments as possible. If resources are limited, consult with trusted experts who understand your culture, vision and customers. Leadership development partners should be prepared to help you design strategy that is:

  • Driven from the top down and bottom up

  • Design on the job development with stretch projects across departments and functions

  • Provide readily accessible development resources: executive coaches, facilitators, eLearning modules, etc.

  • Development processes for all levels that are greatly accelerated with shorter learning curves

Most importantly…. leaders of today need to be able to convert VUCA – Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity to Vision, Understanding, Clarity and Agility by applying emotional intelligence. This isn’t some lofty mantra, but what Millennial leaders interpret as purpose.

Millennials are very much aware that they are becoming a hot commodity and are leaving their current employers after 18-24 months. Recent surveys by Gallup indicate reasons for high turnover are not for higher salary, but for development opportunities. Those organizations who proactively develop the high potential next generation of leaders will reduce the rate of turnover and brain drain simultaneously while outperforming the competition and recruiting the best of the best!

Millennial Leadership development

Midge Streeter, Talent Management Consultant, SequentMidge Streeter, Director, Talent Management and Culture-Sequent

Midge has more than 15 years of corporate, entrepreneurial and career coaching experience. In her role at Sequent, Midge focuses on mid-market companies, offering thought leadership and consulting services in the areas of Change Management, Leadership Development, Executive Coaching, Performance Management, Staff Development, Succession Planning, Compensation Analysis and Employee Engagement.

Share this post:
Topics: Leadership Development

Join the conversation:

Search All Blog Posts

Subscribe for Updates

Follow Us